The late legendary head coach Vince Lombardi said that a “school without football is in danger of deteriorating into a medieval study hall.”
In most cases this hypothesis proves to be true. But Lombardi would have been overwhelmed by the sight of the football field at Paul Quinn College in Dallas, Texas.
Michael Sorrell, arriving at historically black Paul Quinn in 2007, did the unthinkable—in football-nuts Dallas. President Sorrell opted to cut the university’s football program.
Because of a small enrollment of just 250 students, financial limitations and poor alumni giving Sorrell sensed Paul Quinn football was “something economically we could not justify.”
“We are standing on the precipice of an economic day of reckoning in higher education,” Sorrell said. “I think there will be more schools to do this. I think we’re just early.”
“Predictably, we had folks who were, I guess, the reaction was loud,” Sorrell said.
Today however, six years removed from the end of Paul Quinn football, the football field has turned into an organic farm and will produce 17,500 lbs. of food for Cowboys fans this season.
Plus, students overseeing the project are paid $10 an hour to work on the farm.
“I am in love with what we are doing with the field,” said Shon Griggs, Jr., a legal-studies major who played football at his Atlanta high school. “It is exciting and I have learned so much. I have personally gotten more out of the farm than the football field.”
“When I played football, I was able to strengthen my body. Here, we are impacting community, changing lives, teaching kids, and learning about nature,” he said.
Now with a marveled academic reputation, Sorrell has no regrets. In fact, Paul Quinn College is experiencing one of the greatest turnarounds in the history of higher education and was named the “2011 HBCU of the Year”.
“We turned our football field into an organic farm…it has made us a national leader on this issue,” Sorrell said.
“There are no regrets. We didn’t have the resources necessary to change and really build a football program in the way we wanted to do it. This is what was right for us.”
About Paul Quinn:
The mission of Paul Quinn College is to provide a quality, faith-based education that addresses the academic, social, and Christian development of students and prepares them to be servant leaders and agents of change in their communities.